The first three weeks of June will be great adventures for me. This week at Saint Meinrad, I join brother priests from throughout the Archdiocese at our annual Presbyteral Assembly. Next week brings the semiannual meeting of the U.S. Bishops in St. Louis. The third week, I will make a fraternal visit, along with Archbishop Cupich of Chicago, to Ukraine. I hope to write later this month about this visit to the bishops in Ukraine.
All three of these adventures involve fraternity and learning. At Saint Meinrad we will be engaged in “intercultural competency skill-building.” As increasing numbers of our faithful and our priests join us from various cultures and continents, this assembly offers a time to step back and reflect upon the experience of diversity. We seek to appreciate the richness and address the challenges of how various cultures can meet in a way that will make the Pentecost experience of many languages but one Holy Spirit come alive.
The meeting in St. Louis will focus on many topics, with a highlight being the opportunity for us bishops to hear from married couples as they witness to the beauty and challenges of marriage. In Ukraine, the fraternal visit involves supporting the bishops and faithful in a troubled and divided nation, as well as the seeing the great work being supported by the annual national collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. There will be a lot to learn during these trips, but the fruit of these experiences will be much more than learning.
These are not simply pragmatic learning events where business coworkers get together to sharpen skills at a convention. While the joy of friends meeting always brings about relaxation and a renewal of spirit, in all three of these meetings, there will be an experience of fraternity borne of a theological foundation called communio. These gatherings will reveal a deeper invisible bond that unites us in the service of others in the name of and through the power of Jesus Christ.